WING CHUN 101: How To Win A Street Fight In 3 Steps

Belts, sashes, rank and title go out the window. All that matters in a self-defense encounter or attack in the street is WHAT YOU CAN DO. If you don’t train that way, you aren’t training true martial arts.

Yep, you read right!  I realize this sounds braggodocious, sensational, more than a little presumptuous and definitely pretty ballsy…but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.

As Wing Chun folks, we need to always remember why we train this stuff!  I don’t train for a medal or a trophy and I sure as hell don’t train for enlightenment, at-one-ment with the cosmos or inner peace.  Now if I happen to win a medal or feel a bit more peaceful as a result of training to cave someone’s nose in who tried to jump me in a WalMart parking lot at 11:30pm-so be it, but it never detracts me from my sole objective in all of this.

My Motivation for Training

I train for one reason: to apply my skills should I (God forbid) ever need them in a self-defense scenario.  Period.

Have I gained intangible benefits from training?  You bet.  But as I have said before and will say again, they are byproducts of proper training, not the end goals.  Whenever feel-goody ideas like “peace of mind,” “enlightenment,” and “spirituality” become the main focus of training, the byproduct is piss-poor fighting ability and if you aren’t training your art to be able to become proficient at fighting another human being intent on doing you harm, hang up your fancy silk uniform and go buy a model kit of the USS Constitution or the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard to focus your attention on instead.

The worst thing someone can do is train a martial art; a system of movements predicated on fighting another human being in close quarter combat, in such a way that all semblance of “fighting” and sense of urgency and danger is gone and replaced by uniforms, sashes, ranks, pontification on technical concept and emphasis on aesthetic appearance of forms and complex pre-arranged sequences.


Let me just end my mini-rant on this topic by addressing all martial artists out there (and if this offends you, tough):  if you claim to be a “martial artist,” and do NOT train to fight but instead focus on everything but fighting and self-defense, you are not a martial artist but an aerobics instructor.  Your uniform isn’t a uniform; it is a costume.  You are a role-player just like someone who dresses up like a wizard or a magician and does battle with elves and dragons in someone’s basement or out in a forest with cardboard swords and shields.  I’m not knocking them, though, because they know who they are and know that what they are doing is fantasy while you labor under an illusion of imaginary ability and pass along information you haven’t ever tested through hard contact and purposeful training designed to put you in uncomfortable scenarios, relying instead on rote memorization of technique and parroting back regurgitated answers from someone who most likely never tested this shit out in such purposeful training either…and thus, the cycle of misinformed bullshit perpetuates.  Good Luck.

3 Steps to Winning a Street Fight

Wing Chun is geared for self-preservation, nothing else.  What we train for is to remove ourselves from a situation as quickly as possible and with as little damage to ourselves while at the same time inflicting maximum damage to our opponent, which leads me into Step 1…

Step 1: Don’t Get In A Fight!

Training the eye rake, a “bread and butter” close quarters self defense move. If I have to address a situation physically, there’s gonna be no give-and-take; we aren’t “fighting.”   I’m going to bash his balls in and then go home and have a sandwich.

The best way to win a fight is to not get in one.

Now I don’t say this from the point of view of the “peaceful warrior” or Mister Miyagi but rather from a much more practical standpoint: risk of injury, loss of income from injury or legal fees, possibility of jail time, etc.   These factors all figure in. By using verbal de-escalation techniques and common sense, one can avoid many potential situations, leaving only those where physical contact is inevitable.

If that be the case, I am not treating it as a “fight” and as such I am not “getting into a fight.”  A fight implies a back and forth exchange with some structure.  What I am training for is an 8 to 20 second explosion of surgical barbarism, bad intentions and blitzkrieg-like force giving this shitbird no chance to respond with anything.  The following quote I read years ago in a magazine sums up Step 1 perfectly:

“I don’t believe in fighting; I believe in beatings.   If I am in a ‘fight’ it means something went wrong with my technique and I f*cked up.”

We don’t get in “fights.”  We don’t train for 3 minute rounds.  We train to buzz-saw some prick into a heap in less than 30 seconds and that’s not a fight, that’s a beating.

Given to me by a cop who’d been in more than his share of scraps over the last 15 years. Good enough for him, good enough for me…and you.

An excellent resource on the topic of verbal de-escalation, perhaps the best one out there, is the book Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion.  This was given to me by a cop who, the week prior to giving me this book, successfully applied the tactics in this book to  verbally de-escalate and diffuse a wedding reception full of homemade moonshine-guzzling drunken Slovaks from getting into an all-out brawl with the drunk morons in the next reception hall over something stupid like a parking spot.  Click HERE to pick up this gem of a book and really apply what it says.

Step 2: Maintain Your Triangle (Lay the Track For The Train To Come Through)

Wing Chun’s triangular structure is its’ best asset in a street fight.  Maintaining your triangle allows you to impose your will much more effectively to your opponent’s center, prying open their structure.

Now this doesn’t mean you remain static like a pose-and in fact that’s a good way to get your ass scooped up, body slammed and dumped on the ground.  The triangle structure I am speaking of extends not only outward from your shoulders to your centerline but from your feet to your centerline as if the triangle shape made from placing your hands together extended from your body outward was dropped down to the ground.

At first glance this looks nothing like Wing Chun…but when you approach things conceptually you see this is the one sure-fire way to apply the concept of TRIANGULAR STRUCTURE and FORWARD PRESSURE in a surprise attack, sucker-punch scenario, using Wing Chun in an on-the-fly adaptible way.

This sets up a feeling of being a cow-catcher on an old train as you steam towards your opponent, which will then allow you to apply Step 3…

Step 3:  Eyes, Throat and Balls…All Day!


Bruce Lee,in his fanatic obsession with discovering the universal truth behind all martial arts, discovered that regardless of martial arts or combat system there are only 4 ranges of any combative encounter:  Kicking, Punching, Trapping and Grappling.  Any art, style or system on Earth must fall into one of those.

What makes Wing Chun such a devastating system for personal protection and self defense is the range it occupies.  Wing Chun teaches us to finish altercations quickly and dispassionately in what is known as “trapping range.”

This is inside of kicking and punching range yet not on the ground or close enough to grapple.  This is the range where the most sensitive areas on your attacker’s body are most ripe for the taking; I say “most ripe” because you can kick someone in the balls from kicking range and you can eye poke them on the ground grappling but for pure ratio of weapons available on your body to vital targets open on theirs, nothing beats trapping range.  

When In Doubt, Go Back To This Blueprint

Stick to this “Wing Chun 101” mental blueprint while you train, and you will begin to see how your forms, drills and individual techniques fall in line with this 3 step process.

Pay particular attention to how your Wing Chun practice conceptually and technically falls in line with the self-defense princicples discussed above.  On your next Wing Chun training session or class give these a spin…

  • See and feel how your forms solidify your structure to move as one unit like a swinging wrecking ball, paying special attention to the inner thigh tension and the elbow-hip relationship, both of which play out the way a rubber band will “snap back” after being stretched; in this case, the rubber band will propel your body forward as you step and will ensure that the hips drirve the elbows for maximal force.
  • When practicing entries such as pak sau and lop sau, pay attention to the triangular structure of your entry, and notice how it is congruent with the shape of the “cow catcher” I mentioned earlier.  As you enter, you are a log-splitter; you are a wedge driving the structure of your opponent open.  This is why there are no fakes or feints in Wing Chun.  We are like sharks-patient and methodical, yet always calculating and when given an opportunity, attacking without mercy and in a precise yet devastating manner.
  • Do not view chi sau as a “fight” or as “sparring;” rather as a feedback drill to get shit right and tightened up for when it counts.  Be assertive and seek openings as you would in an aggressive chi sau session; just be sure to-and this is really important-keep the real place of chi sau training in your mind so as not to degenerate into focusing solely on “hitting” someone in a chi sau session as the end-all, be-all.  Remember, we train for reality.  We train for street defense.  We train to protect ourselves.  Always keep that in the back of your mind while concentrating fully on the task at hand and your skills will grown in both technical ability and functionality.

Integrate the “Wing Chun 101” 3 Step Process as I have laid out above into your training and watch your functionality skyrocket.  It not only will, there’s no way it cannot-because Wing Chun is a combat art and its’ end goal is the same, so it stands to reason that all roads will eventually lead to Rome, right?  Although in this case “Rome” is smashing some sadistic prick in the throat, kneeing his balls and raking his eyes.

Works for me.


Train Smart, Stay Safe

Sifu Bobby

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